Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dye Testing: Brand 1 Results

As many of you know, I'm in the process of testing some acid dyes from different brands to see which one I like best, and which will fit my needs. I have 3 brands to test, and the results so far are interesting. I'm testing out only the primary colors offered by each brand, plus black, so I can get custom colors by blending the primary colors together. I'm fairly confident that at this point I don't really need to have a huge variety of colors on hand to mix into new colors.

I've tested all of Brand 1 dyes, yellow, red, blue, and black:

In general, this brand dyes fairly well. But I have two problems with this brand. The first is, it doesn't dye the merino very well, and I'm not sure why. In all of these samples, I dyed BFL, merino, faux cashmere, icicle, and silk noil in order to be consistent. It's quite possible that merino has a longer dye absorption time than the other fibers, since in every case, the merino turned out lighter than the other wool sample (BFL). A smoother surface will cause more solid reflection of light, thereby giving the fiber a dark, shiny appearance. Silk is notorious for this property. Still, I'm not quite satisfied, and I want the colors on the merino to be darker.

One solution is to only put merino in the dyebath at a time, but that's too limiting for my tastes. The other is to just not use this brand for my dyeing needs, since historically, I always dye merino. The second problem occurred with the black dye. I always create dye solutions (dye mixed with water) so I don't need to mess with dye powders, and I always shake them well both when I create the mixture and before I measure out what I need. The black dye looked like it should, thoroughly mixed, without lumps, and smooth instead of goopy.

When I was removing the fibers from the dyebath, however, there were these large, nearly solid pieces of black dye floating in the water. I've never seen this before, and I'm also curious why this happened. I'm not much of a chemist, but I do have a working knowledge of how chemistry works. A high temperature could break down the dye molecules, resulting in this strange clumping of the dye bits which didn't attach to the fiber...but since I was dyeing silk, and silk shouldn't be heated above 180F, I'm fairly confident that the dyebath didn't get too hot. And if it did get too hot for the dye at 180F, how am I supposed to use this dye color at all? That's the minimum temperature for wool to take on the dye, and the maximum temperature for silk.

The goal of this whole process is to see which of these dye brands will work for me without needing to purchase from different companies. With the black dye not working for me at all, and the merino problem, I'm afraid that this brand isn't the one for me.

I just have one more sample to dye for Brand 2, then I'll post the results from that testing soon. Sorry for the huge gap in posting here, but my momma came to visit us for about 2 weeks and we were mega busy. I'll post some interesting things I found around Seoul while she was here, and give you a nice taste of her gorgeous pictures--she's an excellent photographer!